TOPEKA , Kan. , May 19, 2008 — Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE:WR) today announced it and Electric Transmission America (ETA) have formed Prairie Wind Transmission, LLC, a joint venture company that plans to construct ultra-high capacity electric transmission facilities in Kansas.
This project will be the first ultra-high capacity transmission west of the Mississippi River . Westar Energy, Inc. and ETA will have equal ownership shares in Prairie Wind Transmission.
ETA is a joint venture between AEP Transmission Holding Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP) and MEHC America Transco, a wholly owned subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
Prairie Wind Transmission is proposing to build approximately 230 miles of 765 kilovolt (kV) transmission facilities extending from the Wichita area west to the Dodge City area and then south-southwest to the Kansas border from Medicine Lodge. Following the receipt of necessary regulatory approvals, including approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission, these facilities are expected to be in service by the end of 2013.
“Westar is pleased to launch this new transmission company with AEP and MidAmerican. AEP has the most experience with ultra-high capacity 765 kV transmission lines of any transmission provider in the country, MidAmerican ranks among the largest transmission owners in the country, and Westar has more new transmission projects approved and under construction in Kansas than any other utility in the state,” said Bill Moore, Westar Energy president and CEO. “Our new Prairie Wind project advances federal policy for a more robust transmission system to ensure reliability of our nation’s electricity grid and promotes Kansas policy for rapid development of wind energy and the transmission network required to support it.”
“The proposed project is good for the region, the state and our customers,” said Kelly Harrison, Westar Energy Vice President, Transmission Operations and President of Prairie Wind. “This project is the best first step toward the development of an interstate transmission “super highway” in the Midwest that will enable Kansas to export renewable energy resources to other regions and facilitate access to markets for other generation sources. Each participant in this joint venture brings diverse strengths that make Prairie Wind unique.”
Prairie Wind Transmission’s project is consistent with the Southwest Power Pool’s plans for new ultra-high capacity transmission lines serving Kansas and the region to enhance access to lower-cost electric power markets, improve efficiency of the electric grid, improve reliability, and enable extensive development of renewable energy. In addition, the project will provide an economic development boost to the rural area of Kansas by providing jobs during construction and for future operations.
AEP is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States , delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system. AEP has more experience constructing, operating and maintaining 765 kV transmission facilities than any other utility in the United States . MidAmerican’s electric subsidiaries have almost 18,000 miles of transmission facilities making it the fifth largest transmission owner in the United States .
AEP and MidAmerican operate another transmission joint venture, Electric Transmission Texas, LLC, which is a transmission-only utility providing transmission services and pursuing opportunities for additional transmission projects in Texas .